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'Sir Les' just the man for the job at QPR

RESPECTED: Les Ferdinand is the new Director of Football at the west London club

ENGLISH FOOTBALL has it’s first black director of football in the shape of Les Ferdinand MBE at QPR – and I’m buzzing about it.

OK there aren’t, and haven’t been, an awful lot of directors of football in the game’s history – but I’m incredibly pleased to finally see the black community represented at this level in the sport’s structures.

Let’s face it, away from our 25 per cent of black players on the pitch we have little or no representation.

This position is far more powerful than sitting in the dugout every Saturday as the manager. It offers genuine power and influence.

It offers an opportunity to create a culture and structure that sees both the team and club (business) flourish and grow. It also offers far more time in the role to make an impact.

And ‘Sir Les’ is just the man for the job. Not because he’s a QPR legend – although that will make it a popular move with the fans – but because he has an understanding of the boardroom and tremendous experience of all aspects of professional football at shop floor level.

Just last year Les graduated from a corporate governance course set up by former Premier League footballers - Jason Roberts MBE, Michael Johnson, Darren Moore, David Barnett - Managing Director of the Governance Forum, Professor Karl George MBE and myself.

Sport On Board, funded by the Professional Footballers’ Association, was designed to offer the industry board candidates who had played the game and were from diverse backgrounds.

On both counts the course had an open goal to aim, as football’s boards are not very diverse. Actually, scrap that – sport’s boards are not very diverse, at all.

A study last year revealed only 14 BAME people across 449 boardroom positions. Meanwhile, there are very few former pros on football’s boards.

However, it would be misleading to suggest Sport On Board got Les the QPR role – it didn’t - but it is worth considering the following?

Did the course offer him added confidence about taking on the position? Maybe.

Did it teach him a set of skills that will help him in the role? Almost certainly.

Did it give him a firm understanding of good governance and decision-making? Absolutely.

Good luck to Les, hopefully he is the first of many Sport On Board graduates to be given an opportunity.

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